My wife has a flowerbed that she likes to plant beautiful flowers in every year.
She turns the dirt, picks out and purchases new flowers, and plants them in the spring for the coming summer. She plants a row of white flowers, followed by a row of purple flowers, then a row of red flowers, and lastly plants a large tall flowery plant in the back. It is a beautiful display of color. It is well organized. It has room for all of the flowers in their own areas. And it adds a lot of beauty to our home.
But at times she has been too busy to get it done. When this occurs, the area turns to a hodgepodge of various smaller flowers and weeds. Each is crowding the other for space. Some overgrow each other. Either way it is a disorganized crowded collaboration of various plants and weeds that is not attractive nor inviting.
In thinking about this, I have likened it to the growth we are experiencing in Orem and Utah Valley. I sit on the Executive Board of Directors for Envision Utah, a state wide visioning non profit organization that has been tasked with putting forth plans for the future of Utah. As such we have organized a new Utah Valley Visioning process including the universities, businesses, government agencies, the local chambers of commerce and residents of Utah Valley.
The Kem Gardner Policy Institute of Utah estimates that the growth of Utah County over the next 50 years will equal the size of Salt Lake County, or, in other words, will add close to 1 million new residents. Most of this growth will occur on the west side of Utah Lake. But Orem will continue to grow as well.
The majority of this growth will come from the increasing size of our own families, from our children, and then our grandchildren, etc. Years ago many of our family members could not find jobs in our area and moved to other states. Today we are one of the top producing job growth cities and states in the nation. As such, our children and grandchildren can find jobs here and many want to stay in our beautiful valley.
Utah County has a booming economy, two major universities, stellar recreation and arts, and a myriad of other benefits that make for a great quality of life. If we are not careful, however, that growth can rob us of the very things that have made our quality of life great in the first place.
To this end it is important for our residents and community leaders to come together to create a plan for the future that will ensure that Utah Valley can grow in a way that the people who live here want it to do.
How we grow matters. We need to plan for, manage, and govern our growth in a way that will be beneficial for all. As such, many organizations have come together to do a Utah Valley Visioning process.
When Brigham Young and the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley, they planned and organized for the future. The city streets were laid out in a grid fashion to facilitate neighborhoods and movement of people. The main streets were set up so that an ox driven cart could do a full turn around without having to back up. Farms were set up outside of the city with homes and gardens set inside the city to allow the residents to use the amenities of the city. Water ditches and canals were set in place to move water throughout the city. It was a planned set up to allow for establishing a beautiful city and allowing for the future growth of it.
Today we are facing many of the same types of challenges ahead of us. We need to plan for future infrastructure needs, traffic flows, population growth, clean air and water. As a city we have worked hard and put in place master plans for sewer, storm water, water, roads, parks, and State Street for our city. These plans outline the needed infrastructure maintenance, upgrades, and improvements for our city for many years to come. We have put these plans in place and are following them. We have also put in place Neighborhood plans to protect our bedroom neighborhoods and keep them safe, peaceful, and stable places to live.
I don't know what the end result of the Valley Visioning process will look like. However, that is the point. Over the next 18 months we are going to study the options, look at real scenarios, and let anyone who has any stake in the future of Utah Valley - that is all of us - weigh in.
If you can, please take the "Valley Visioning Survey" and come to the public workshops. You can find the information for both at the website
As we learn together and listen we will find solutions, figure out where growth should go, determine what our "garden" should look like and include and make sure that we create a Utah Valley that our kids and grandkids will want to live in for generations to come.